TCS Daily

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Borg

By Jon N. Hall - December 15, 2009 12:00 AM

The idea that there are totalitarianisms of the left as well as totalitarianisms of the right is one of the more insidious ideas of the 20th Century. It is also a lie; a lie that has infected the general population; a lie that has made it possible for the political Left to flog its opponents for decades as "rightwing fascists."

"In the greatest hoax of modern history, Russia's ruling 'socialist workers party,' the Communists, established themselves as the polar opposites of their two socialist clones, the National Socialist German Workers Party [Nazis] and Italy's Marxist-inspired Fascisti, by branding both as 'the fascists.'...this spin of all spins has played [havoc] upon Western thought for the past 75 years."
-- from author Tom Wolfe's blurb for Liberal Fascism

Not only is this idea a lie, it's ignorant. Jonah Goldberg ably demonstrated this in his book, Liberal Fascism. But beyond being ignorant, this idea is simply dumb. Goldberg dealt with the ignorance of the idea, and here's why it's dumb: What's politically left and right is determined by something one chooses.

There are two ways we use "left" and "right" in politics. The first and older usage is simply to denote two opposing camps. In America we have two major parties, so this usage works nicely. The "opposing camps" usage dovetails with the red-state/blue-state, us-versus-them line of thinking, but it doesn't account for everyone. Some party members go "off the reservation" on some issues. We might find a Democrat who is pro-life, or a Republican who wants to raise taxes. Such anomalies upset the applecart.

The second usage of "left" and "right" is a bit more sophisticated, and tries to account for these anomalies by recognizing that people don't usually fit neatly into just two camps. So the second usage takes into account the mixes of positions people have, and their gradations. E.g., some brands of socialism are more extreme than others, so we might say they're "far left." Whereas the first usage envokes the dichotomy (perhaps even some Manichaean duality), the second usage envokes the spectrum, where left flows by gradations into right, and vice-versa.

With the "opposing camps" approach, one simply defines one's group, and everyone else is the enemy. With the spectrum approach, one chooses a variable present in all political systems, and then puts the systems on one's spectrum according to that variable.

Whenever we see a modifier or qualifier, such as the "far" in "far left," we're getting the spectrum usage. People are always talking about the political spectrum, but many don't know what their political spectrum is based upon, or even how a spectrum works. Although the spectrum doesn't tell us everything about political systems, it does allow us to see relationships between systems better than a simplistic dichotomy does.

The spectrum is a conceptual device, a construct; it calibrates whatever we want it to, and there's no reason why we can't have several political spectra, each calibrating a different aspect (or variable) of political systems.

Conservatives worry about the ever growing "size" of government; i.e., they worry about Big Government. Liberals extol the virtues of Big Government; economist Paul Krugman is both a recent and notable example.

So, in government, "size" is an issue. And "size" is a perfect variable for a spectrum. Technically, there's no way to precisely measure the "size" of a government, but we roughly know, and we can put them exactly where they need to be on a spectrum relative to others. For example, the size of the European socialist governments is greater than the American government circa 1930. We also know that the current American government is much larger than it was in 1930, which means the American government has gone further toward one side of a spectrum that calibrates size.

This begs the question: what should the political spectrum be based on? At first, I thought the political spectrum should be based on Freedom, but I discarded that idea and chose something I came to feel might be even more basic to political systems: Power. Since totalitarianisms grab more Power than any other political system, they would all go at one end of the spectrum (both the commies and the fascists). However, had I based my spectrum on Freedom, or civil rights, or a variable such as the size or the intrusiveness of government, the totalitarian systems would still be clustered together, over on the end, and the opposite end of the spectrum would be taken up by anarchism: the absence of government and its Power.

The spectrum found below is based on one from the American Federalist Journal (I've modified its color scheme to something a bit more intuitive). It aligns so closely with my own spectrum that I have to wonder if I saw it long ago. But if not, I have even more faith in the idea, as someone else derived it independently.

Alarm bells would go off in the brain of any independent thinker who heard that the opposite of totalitarianism is totalitarianism. But those who comprise the radical Left are not independent thinkers; they are the Borg -- totally assimilated into a collective mind, lacking all individuality and independence of thought, and...hey, what are you doing?, TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF ME, STOP, NO, NO, noooo...

As we Borg say: You will be assimilated. Resistence is futile.

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.


If you didn’t guess, that stands for “Were Would Jesus Be?” on your political spectrum?

Politics is a multi-dimensional space, and not easily reduced to one dimension. In order to reduce it to one dimension, you have to determine what the most important dimension is. I tend to agree with the assertion that government size, or government power, is one of the most important parameters. It also has the advantage of having several quantifiable and measurable estimators. We can measure % of GDP spent on government programs, or the % of the population employed by the government, the average tax rate, etc.

Of course, not all citizens will agree that the size or power of a government is the most important parameter. Many will have their pet issues. And many issues do not fold neatly into this “one dimension fits all” approach.

Take, for example, abortion. Conservatives, who generally want minimal government, see the protection of innocent lives as a duty that government must fulfill. Meanwhile, liberal Democrats, who support government intervention in lots of other areas, suddenly demand minimal government intervention, and want the government to “stay out of their bedrooms (or wombs)”.

Some have even given up and on the idea of a one dimensional spectrum, and contented themselves with a two-dimensional political space (i.e. “I’m a fiscal conservative, but a social liberal”).

So, I go back to my original question: Where Would Jesus Be? Would He be conservative, or liberal? (That was a rhetorical question. We all know what the answer is – it depends on who you ask. If you ask a liberal, they would claim that Jesus would surely be on their side. And if you ask a conservative, you’d get the same answer.)

Maybe a better question to ask is this: What would Jesus’ spectrum be? That’s not too hard to answer, I guess. One end of His spectrum would be labeled Good, and the other end would be labeled Evil. How are these things defined? Good is whatever God desires. Evil is what God does not desire.

Of course, it is interesting to note, that while Jesus clearly laid down his Good-Evil measuring stick, and told people where they stood (not good), He did not apply it to governments. Surely if He had, the corrupt Roman Empire of His day would have not fared well. But Jesus was not in the business of judging governments – He is in the business of judging individual humans. And each of us has ample opportunity to be either Good or Bad, as we so choose, under any government, no matter how corrupt or wicked it may be.

Now, if God Himself ordained government among men, for what purpose was it ordained? If we can answer that question, perhaps we can use that as a measuring stick to evaluate our governments. What is the legitimate, God-given purpose of government?

I have my answer - To enforce justice. That is, to punish the guilty, and protect the innocent. For this purpose God granted government the power of the sword. The police are to enforce justice within the nation. The military is to enforce justice between the nations.

So, my personal spectrum has justice at one end and injustice at the other. On my scale, Big Government is not necessarily equivalent to bad government. Big government is fine if it is enlarged temporarily, to meet a legitimate justice enforcement need (think WWII). Big Government is NOT fine if it is used to promote injustice (entitlement programs, wealth confiscation and redistribution programs, mandatory enrollment health care or retirement insurance programs, etc.).

In military leadership courses, we talk about how our government is supposed to protect our “national interests”. We speak of national strategic interests and national security interests. But what could possibly be in our national interest more than justice? If chasing our national interests (security, open access to oil markets, etc) required us to forsake justice, and embrace injustice, would we do it? I sure hope not. That’s not the country I signed up to defend.

Surely, Mercy is better than Justice, and I’m forever thankful that God has promised me Mercy, instead of Justice. But I don’t expect the same from government. I expect justice. What is the old saying? – “If you want peace, seek justice.”

Unfortunately, my Justice spectrum does not lend itself to objectively measurable values. Roy would simply claim that wealth accumulation was injustice, and that confiscating wealth and redistributing it according to his wishes was justice. Go figure. So, I guess I’ll have to yield to the practical superiority of the “government size” political spectrum.

P.S. For the Apostle Paul’s political advice, check out Romans 13. His statement of the purpose of government can be found in Romans 13:4.

Totalitarisism or Dictatators is neither Liberal or Conservitive
totalitarianism - Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed

There is no Liberal no Conservative any where in the definition. Quite frankly the problem is people throw words around to there own meaning so much it does change the meaning. Still doesn't make it right.

I would argue the Communism as practice in most "Communists State" is in fact NOT communist. People just have changed the meaning of the word again just to support their own rhetoric.

Like changing the rules of tag during a game on the play ground. It does indicate the maturity of those doing the definition changing as well.

Out of our league
Where would Jesus be on the author's political spectrum. To answer this question, start with Luke 4 vs. 1-8:

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'"

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours."

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"

Well, would you look at that! It seems Jesus' mission on earth was to save us from our sin and not bad government. Otherwise, he would have taken the devil up on his offer instead of dying on the cross after being brutally tortured.

In fact, bad government of every stripe, design or constitution is a consequence of sin, as we see from the following passage, 1 Samuel 8 vs. 4-8:

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."

But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.

Yes, that's right: The people rejected the LORD and refused to abide his commands. They rebelled against Him, and such rebellion is one of the essences of sin. Yet the LORD had mercy on his people and warned them of the consequences of their sin, as 1 Samuel 8 vs. 9-18 reports:

"Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."

So where would Jesus be on any modern political spectrum? Well, actually he'd be well above them all, as many passages reveal, including Mark 16 v. 19:

"After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God."

He will return the same way (Acts 1 vs. 10-11):

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

At that time, the way the earth is governed will change dramatically (Hebrews 1 vs. 1-13):

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."

In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."

He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end."

To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?

Now, doesn't it seem fair to say that Jesus is above all of our political spectra however conceived? Indeed, it is so. Therefore, avoid confusing Jesus - the Lord of the universe through whom it was created - with human politics.

Joanie, I am still here just a differenct sign on.
I was the Big R. I miss a lot of the old crew two.

At a time when Republicans are in total lock step to obstruct government action and Democrat leaders are shepherds trying to corral their flock of mice scurrying about, the author chooses to make remark that its the Left that is the borg. Good one. How about during a time when **** Armey and his teabaggers want to instill a purity test on Republican candidates so they can make sure the candidates stay in formation and don't take positions that run counter to "the message"? Oh but yes, it is the Left that is the borg. Ha!

I find the spectrum offered in the article way off-base for judging political station. And given the fact that most people are a mix of positions on varying issues, I don't see how the spectrum in the article is useful at all. Of course, other than to batter the Left over the head with more asinine rationalization. We all know how good the Right is at batting and rationalization! Just read this article.

In fact, I have a diagram on my wall that is 100 times better of a spectrum to pinpoint where a person may fall on the political scale. You can plot positions for any and all issues and come to a nice conclusion from Far-Left to Left to Middle to Right to Far-Right, and even smaller details in between if you so choose.

Despite the incessant view coming from the Right that everything is a dicotomy, its good to see someone on TCS expressing the dicotomy is a false perception. Its for idiots. Much like ideology. Hmmm, does that mean the Right lacks independent thinkers as well as the Left? No duh.

What God thought of the state:
1 Samuel 8: 11-20:
11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle [a] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."

Sorry RB
I didn't read yours first.

you mean...out to lunch
To pose a mythical figure from some weird religious cult doesn't even mean anything to say.....most of the people in the world that aren't even christians.

The world is binary
Taken to the appropriate level.
It is or is not.
Light or no light....

Communism requries volunteers
Communism cannot exist unless all participants are volunteers, like a monastery.
Trouble is, some think communism is best, but don't want to wait for volunteers and then must use force.

Roy Agreeable?
Hardly. He called me, and some others every vile name in the book, like; dummy, idiot, clueless, etc.

Also, how gentlemanly is it to recommend people be killed for having different views from his?

Power or prosperity
I submit this is the real dichotomy.
Some want to have power over others. Why? Low self esteem?
The rest of us want to be left alone to prosper in voluntary cooperation with each other, not coercion.

stop worrying about fascists
Nice to see somebody else also saying that leftists are striving little wanna-be totalitarians.
It corresponds with my definition that all those tags like liberal, socialists, commie, nazi, etc. are all variants of fascism.

The only ones in the charge that don't want to use force to make others comply are the anarchists.

I can't say I blame him
For those of you who are looking, here's a link to that post:

I'm just glad he didn't cash in his last social security check, if you catch my drift.

The world 'Opposition' comes from the word 'oppose', in case you didn't notice
And I don't recall you bitching about the Dems when all they did was oppose and obstruct Bush w/o offering alternatives of their own after they took Congress in 2007.

The opposition just has to oppose. They have a far easier job than the party in power, as they have to govern but the opposition does not.

Anyone who thinks otherwise has a terribly uninformed view of how government works/basic PoliSci 101.

Most politicians are in this group.

Weird religious cult?
Once one comes to the point of not believing in God, what's the point of talking about God? An atheist pontificating on theology is like a pedophile holding forth on good parenting.

The above brush-off aside, according to what worldview standard are you calling Christianity "some weird religious cult"? Is it the Soviet "break some eggs to make an omelet" worldview? Or is it the ChiCom "one child policy" worldview? Perhaps the Kim Jong-il cult of personality worldview? Hmmm.

What's the proper atheist response to AGW fanatics' demand for a global one-child policy?

At least you've got a Bible and know how to use it
In my book, that puts you way ahead of the game.

Is that you, rb?
Can I still you rb?

I concur with Joanie. Even though we don't agree on most things, compared to the legion of trolls blackening discussion sites, you're a bright light.

mythical figure
Yeah, right. Look at the trouble historians have with quite recent history, even with primary sources, muchless those written maybe hundreds of years ex post facto. Look at all the controversies all throught classical studies even though the Romans wrote a lot of stuff. Yet you're so so sure that those four contradictory gospels, chosen later amongst many alternate gospel, was so so accurate? Try to stand up at any real history conference and talk like that.

ITMT, my formative years were spend suffering under the child abuse of a really weird releigious cult called.....what was it again...oh yeah, roman catholic. At primary the nuns thought it was quite all right to use corporal punishment, which was legal at the time. Then in high school our child abuse was suffered in the private chatholic shcool under the firm hand of the congregation of the resurrection priests and lay brothers. If we thought the nuns were though, boy did we get a surprise when we saw what those perveted priests and brother did?

I only got to the socialist environment at college where most of the prof then, just like now were overwhelming socialists.

yes, weird religious cult
Tell me if this is not weird; virgin birth(no proof of it, no evidence at all), holy ghosts(np,ne), a personal guiding angel following you around all day and night(np, ne), a blessed trinity, not just one god, and no proof that any of the three exist outside people's minds); that bread and wine can be transformed into the body and blood of a mythical figure from 2k years ago.

Are you trying to say that not weird? And that's just the short list. Don't get me talking about stuff like 'limbo', and the lie of going blind if you pleasure yourself.

Regarding the fproper atheists response to a one child policy, at least I, would say it's just another fascist demand like all the other fascist demands. I don't care how many brats people have; I only acknowledge one myself no matter what those girls say.

to Joanie re Roy
Maybe you treated you with more respect because you're a girl, but he for sure was bathmouthing a lot of guys with name calling and sarcastic putdowns.

I don't know about the early years around here, and it's nice that you had some good discussions with him.

I don't know about that Dietmar guy, but I heard about him from a friend that has been following this site for years, sorry if he was rude or something to you.

I think I saw a couple from that Eric, who seemed off his nut completely, wheras Roy seemed more like some guy working for the chamber of commerce, or some govn't agent 'agent provacateur'.

socialism as a variant of fascism
I agree with your first para.

On the second, I did argue that point with Roy often lately. His was a 'Mad Max' scenario, the common one used by socialists and it's an 'argument from fear', and I believe unjustified. My own neighbours around here are not robbing and raping and pillaging me because of the mostly absent, and uncaring cops, but rather because, like most normal people, they don't think it right to do such atrocities.

The wackos out there who are psyco-paths or biker gangs ect. can be taken care of in normal ways, as indeed they are mostly dealt with without the power of the state.

I think our biggest danger is from governments.

Where I live it's actually against the law to have a glass of wine or beer while on a pic-nic with your family on the beach or in the woods, etc. unlike most of the world.
If you resist the cops who come to stop you, they'll call in the swat team and if you resist them, they'll kill you.

I don't see the Hell's Angels , or Tony Soprano threatening me that way.

anarchists starting colonies
Anarchists cannot start new colonies anywhere because all land on earth is claimed by some repressive government or other and they will kill you if you try to succeed.

Look at certain groups that tried to live seperatley; the conferate south, and the result was that Lincoln said we will keep killing them till they capitulate.

In Nigeria when the Ibos tied to separate and live their own way. How many wiped out again?

Those religious nuts in Waco texas, trying to live their own way; wiped out by government. Should they have been more afraid of the Hell's Angles, the LA gangs? the Jamaica drug mafia?

What if you want to take some currently against the law drug in your own home? Who is more likely to break your door down, rush in a dozen armed goons in black costumes, throw your women and children on the floor while using the abusive language of ; "freeze mother f'er"? Shoot your dogs first thing, then when they realize you were the mayor of the town, not even apologize? (True Story).

Well said, Missy
I would add that one of the weirdest things about Christianity is that while claiming on one hand that God's will is unknowable, Christians of all political stripes certainly spend a lot of time telling the rest of us what God believes, and what he wants us to do.

And yes, it is possible to defend individual rights without resorting to "God's will" -- in fact, it is impossible to argue for them in the context of a worldview that includes an omnipotent being whose whim overrides all physical and moral law.

Speaking of trolls...
I see that Bob Jones is still gracing us with his presence.

but is sure is fun to put more than two in a room and watch them go at it like pitbulls
Which is why the Founding Fathers structured our government the way that they did. :)

If you're using the word "weird" to claim that many Christian beliefs are odd or unusual, then you're wrong because there are many such beliefs in circulation. All such beliefs are off limits to atheists, not so?

Interestingly enough, people who entertain absolutely no beliefs in supernatural phenomenon are very odd or unusual. What's more, orthodox Christian beliefs are not the only kind on the menu. Non-Christians and non-orthodox Christians tend to believe in all kind of supernatural phenomenon, such as past life memory, reincarnation, astrology, soothsaying, black magic, spiritual energy in inanimate objects, etc. Therefore, if I were to use the word weird in the sense of "odd" or "unusual", then atheists would be weird because it's very unusual to not believe in supernatural phenomenon.

Yes, atheism is weird in one sense of the word, and so are atheists, who for all their adamant claims to be the sole representatives of the light of reason in a dark world, rarely think all the way through their claims.

Now to the one-child policy: Does atheism qua atheism (and not objectivism) propose any principle that puts your womb off limits to the population regulators?

The 10 Friendly Advices
God's will is unknowable? I guess the 10 Commandments are, what, the 10 Friendly Advices? Again, an atheist pontificating on theology is like a pedophile propounding good parenting tips.

So a word of honest advice is in order: Don't discuss theology if you don't know what you're talking about. If there is no God, then you can't know anything about God beyond the fact he doesn't exist, right? It follows that what you're discussing are the claims of others concerning what they about God. The least you can do, therefore, is fully understand those claims before debating them, right?

Next, please do argue for individual rights in the context of a worldview that does not include an omnipotent being. We Christians could use the help because nowadays because there are lots of people claiming that science and nature dictate human rights and obligations. For example, the president's science adviser wrote that current population levels are unsustainable and recommended that the state put sterilants in the water supply. According to the atheist worldview, why are such recommendations immoral? In fact, the modern environmental movement are demanding that you surrender your personal, political and economic freedoms to the state in order to save the planet from you, and most Christians oppose them. Therefore, it seems to me that you atheists who value liberty are barking up the wrong tree.

Lastly, if morality is entirely the province of personal, subjective tastes, then isn't morality really aesthetics? If so, then what standard of aesthetics guides atheists given that the sublime (transcendental goods) doesn't exist? I'm not trying to beat you down, here; I really am curious.

He means well, though ...
... unlike most trolls.

I don't really want to get into an argument about whether Cristianity is "wierd" or not, but if you are going to make that argument, you at least need to know what is and is not Christian theology. (Otherwise, you will claim that Christianity is wierd, and try to back it up by pointing out the wierdness of claims that are not even Christian beliefs. Like you just did...)

Christian beliefs:

Virgin birth? Yes. Scripture is pretty clear about that, and to deny it would be to deny scripture. The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was herself sinless. All other Christian branches that I know of deny this. The fact that Mary refers to Jesus as her "savior" suggests (to most people) that she had sin which she needed to be saved from, like the rest of us.

Holy Ghosts? Yes. Singular, not plural. Again, based on clear scriptural support.

Personal Guiding Angel? Not a whole lot of scriptural support for that. Lots of scriptural support for the existance of angels, but not for your own personal angel.

Trinity? Never specifically mentioned in scripture, but based on lots of scriptural evidence that the Godhead consists of at least three distinct "persons" - Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit - each of which shows signs of divinity (not creations, like angels and us).

Bread and wine becoming body and blood - Roman Catholic idea, known as Transubstantiation. Not shared by most other branches. Most other Christians think the bread and wine were meant to be symbolic, as in "Do this in memory of me", not "Do this to recreate me on a weekly basis".

Limbo - I presume you mean Purgatory. Roman Catholic idea, with no known scriptural basis.

Going blind if you pleasure yourself - Not even a Roman Catholic teaching. Something you picked up from somebody trying to scare you.

Of course you think so
I had you in mind marjon when I typed that. You more than anyone I've encountered think in absolute terms like that.

The world is not binary. In fact very few things we deal with in this world are binary. That doesn't mean you can't force your brain to perceive in binary terms. I'm sure it makes it easier for you to deal with things that make you uncomfortable, and not have to think too much about it. But it also makes you delusional and unable to perceive reality.

We all construct crutches of one type or another to help us deal with life. Some use religion, some use drugs, some blame everyone else, etc. etc. Life is suffering, the more we understand and accept reality the better we are equipped to deal with it.

Indeed there are small coincidences and big coincidences...

Well said.
I have never understood the atheist hostility.
I suspect Missy may be a Randian objectivity and Rand was especially irrational regarding religion.
It seemed to me she was angry that she was human and subject to irrationality.
That conflict is what Gene Rodenberry continued to discuss is his Star Trek series. Spock, Data, Odo,....

Why, why, why, .....
If one keeps asking 'why', one will find the answer.

weird religion
It doesn't follow that since there are many odd beliefs in circulation that they aren't weird. Humans are know for irrational believs all thru history, and all those 10,000+ gods they have thought up are just some of them.

It's also not clear why any odd superstition would be off limits to any atheist. An atheist can comment on anything he wants surely, especially if people posit weird beliefs like the, what is it, taking up serpents, holly rollers, the Shakers who don't believe in pro-creating, the whirling dervishes, the 72 cherry girls for martyrs, the limbo that the catholics used to believe in but don't anymore, christians defending slavery, etc.

Yes, atheists, are unusual in that they don't believe in the supernatual, they're rational instead, unlike many people.

I thought I answered already about one-child policy. I'm against it because I think our bodies belong to us, not the government. I don't care one way or the other how many babies people want to have.

Intolerant atheists
What I find amusing is how so many atheists are intolerant.
Instead of quietly chuckling to themselves about how stupid and silly people of faith are, they feel the need to ridicule.
How does tearing others down build one up?
Me thinks they protest too much.

FYI/weird religious cults
Yes, I claim all religious beliefs and any other sort of belief in the supernatural are weird because they irrational. To believe in something that you can't prove exists is to be irrational.

I met a guy once who believe his garden fairy had a soul, and when I told him that was irrational he said that I just lacked 'faith', just like you religious people do.

Virgin birth and scriptures? Why just christian approved scriptures? The notion of virgin birth was common way before in various religions of the middle east. That's just another affection that some, but not all christians believe in. None of them have proof. See the comment above about the reliability of old texts.

Limbo, oh yeah, that's the one catholics used to believe in but not anymore, right? They used to say that if a baby died before being baptised it would go to limbo. But i guess they changed their minds on that one too; how weird is that to have such arbitrary decisions?

You already admit there are many sects amongst christians, using various texts and rejecting others like the gnosic bibles, judas bible etc. How do you know that your particular weird religious cult is the right one, and that all the others are wrong?

I like the line from Dawkins I think it is; he says that he only believes in one LESS god than you do.

I know a guy who is a devotee of the God Dionisius. What if that's the right one, and not yours?

agree with Missy on this one
When you wonder whether god's will is unkowable, which of the 10000+ gods posited by humans did you mean?

Oh, I know you mean just the judeo-christian one.
If you don't believe the Aztec gods are the right ones, maybe you just don't have faith. After all, that's the only argument you have.

You are probably a christian because your parents and priests have told you it was the right religion, not because you have made a study of all human religions and chose one.

Most people take on the religion of the area or group they were raised with, because of all the brainwashing.

You don't need/ use aesthetic guides to show any of all those god don't exist as you say. Rather it's more accurate to believe something for which there is evidence of it's existence. It's not the responsibility of an athiest to prove a negative, but for the theist to prove that something he claims exists, does.

I could claim UFOs exist but if I can't prove it, why would anybody believe me?

Also, why couldn't an atheist talk about these matters, indeed many of them, including me, have many years of religous brainwashing behind them. I can still say the Pater Noster in Latin by heart after all these years.

Just though of another example of weirdness. I guess some christians, but not others, believe in the old as well as the new testament. Apparently says somewhere in the old testament that you're not allowed to sit on the seat that a menstruating women has used. But the those who claim to follow these holy of holy scriptures, don't obey that command, or even the one that says you should kill adultrous wifes and unobedient children.

That's well said?
Regarding Rand, I'm not an objectivist but I have read most of her stuff, and your comment doesn't corespond to what I know about her.

It's not clear how a person is irrational if they don't believe in something can't has never been proven exists.

Indeed, the opposite is true, if you believe somthing by faith rather than reson, that is the one that is irrational.

Imagine if I told you that you were irrational for not believing in the Mayan gods, that you just lacked faith.

That's what all religious people's arguments sound like to an atheist.

I keep telling my drinking buddy that if he could only show me that his god, Dionisius, were real, then I would believe in him too.

Gods, like all supernatural notions are the products of people's minds, not the natural world.

perverted message?
To stick up for Missy, all your comments don't really relate to her contention that religions have many weird beliefs.

I know the idea of virgin birth was quite common amongst various religions in the middle east thousands of years ago, but it's still weird isnt' it? Even many christian cults don't even buy it.

Read Rand's rant about Apollo 8 and Max Planck
She is all fired up about Frank Borman reading of the Bible as he was one of the fist humans to see earthrise from the moon.
Why should she be so upset?
Rand, while promoting individual liberty couldn't bring herself to do away with the state.

"if you believe somthing by faith rather than reson, that is the one that is irrational. "

"Anybody who has been seriously engaged is scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: 'Ye must have faith.'
Max Planck
"We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up until now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future.
Max Planck

Whence come I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for every one of us. Science has no answer to it.
Max Planck "

Max Planck, founder of quantum theory.

So many atheists miss the entire point of the Bible, faith.
Even Grimm's Fairy Tales have a moral.
The moral of the Bible is faith. From Adam and Eve not keeping faith with God to Noah, Lot, Abraham, ...keeping faith and being rewarded.
Cult or not, the culture of the Jews, keeping faith with God, has kept them alive as a culture when the world keeps trying to kill them.
That suggests some merit to their faith.

Was Ayn Rand humble?
"Rational proofs against god's existence, after all, were as nonsensical and intolerant as were rational proofs for His existence. Indeed, in Hume's eyes, the three undecided guests at Holbach's table were the only reasonable men in the room. Reason and our sense faculties are simply too flawed to allow for what philosophers call absolute knowledge claims about the world."
"Indeed, reason cannot even guarantee our most basic assumptions, like the belief that tomorrow will follow today. Such claims, Hume observed, are based uniquely on experience, which provides absolutely no proof for future events. As a result, how could we ever offer a rational proof for the existence (or non-existence) of a being whose reality falls, in a sense, outside the pale of our senses or reason?

With all due respect to Professor Dawkins, this is why Hume is my hero. Standing to one side of the shouting match between non-believers and believers, he reminds us of the limitations of human reason. This ought to entail humility, not hubris. "

Rand was anything but humble.

I tried reading a book by her, The Art of Non-Fiction, but became fed up with her attitude.

I submit only the stupid are not humble. Stupid people choose to be ignorant. Those that are not stupid seek to not be ignorant. But, if they do the job correctly, they will find that the more they learn, the more there is to learn. Which should make a rational individual very humble indeed.

Power of positive thinking
I guess Snopes won't allow copying, but it describes the story of a math student who solves to 'unsolvable' proofs as homework. He didn't know they were 'unsolvable'.

Also, I just saw Kung Fu Panda. A fun movie with the same moral, faith.

I get it ... cowardice
Let's face it: The Christian doctrine of natural law led directly to the proper understanding of the natural rights of man, which are memorialized in the Declaration of Independence and form the foundation of constitutional republicanism - the American form of government, i.e. a government that is constituted to secure and defend but never violate every individual citizen's rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is beyond dispute, yet atheists dispute it nonetheless. Why? Cowardice.

Today there are three movements who would use violent force to drag man back to where he was before the Declaration of Independence, that is, back to a state of tyranny and enslavement: Fundamentalist Islam, Environmentalism and Socialism. All three movements must rely on terror, force and fraud to achieve their ends because what they offer is enslavement and tyranny in exchange for liberty, which is why opposing them to defend liberty requires courage, sacrifice, hard work and perseverance.

Instead of taking up this difficult fight against true and deadly enemies, atheists attack Christians knowing that Christians won't kidnap them, behead them, enslave them, impoverish them or deprive them of their liberty. They do so because they've conveniently deceived themselves into thinking that Christians are enemies of science and human progress, e.g. Christians remain skeptical of evolution and oppose recognizing domestic unions between homosexuals as equivalent to marriage as it's been understood for the past 10,000 years. Never mind that evolution is a scientific theory and skepticism is fundamental to science, and never mind that society prospers when it sets high standards for its civil institutions. These truths are irrelevant to the atheist's true purpose, i.e. substituting windmills for dragons because windmills don't fight back.

So, my sense is that atheist hostility is based in the same cowardice that directs bullies to pick on smaller kids instead of other bullies. What say you?

Good point
Christians are easy targets as they don't readily fight back.
The Jews were like that once, never again.

Merry Christmas
Too few have the courage to say that anymore.

Merry Christmas to all who read this.

Good stuff!
You know, if the atheists would just ask us to explain what we believe and why we believe it, they'd probably learn to like and respect us in the process. I suspect that's why they're not interested.

Love is a spiritual gift I didn't get and the one I'm least inclined to seek, so for you I have only pity, thecolonel. The ability to say the Pater Noster in Latin by heart is an achievement on par with the monkey who finally banged out Hamlet on a typewriter. That you don't realize this but instead assert moral and intellectual authority from your achievement depicts you perfectly.

That said, you still persist in getting the theology wrong. Read Acts 10 and 11, and then answer me this: What is meant by "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean", and what do suppose the cross has to do with making things clean?

Rand's rant?
What's all this about Rand all the time? I said I wasn't even an objectivist, but even though I have read all her book, and you haven't even finished one,you presume to hold court on her.

I also heartily condemn Rand too for being a sort of minarchist rather than an anarchist.

Your quote from Planck doesn't mean anything re the existence of an of the thousands of gods. He just correctly states what real scientists should say when they don't know something; I don't know.

This is contrasted to you theists who say instead; I don't know, therefor I'll posit a supernatural causation, without any evidence at all.

Of all the lame exuces for this irrationality the best one I've heard yet was: :"Only a god could have created anything as beautiful as.....Anna Kournidova".

TCS Daily Archives